BEDFORD, N.H. - Gov. Christie pulled out all the promotional stops Saturday to begin a four-day campaign swing through New Hampshire: supporters who sang his praises, cheering New Jersey volunteers, and a shiny campaign bus that rolled into an automotive shop to the
As he pushed the message of a campaign on the rise - buoyed by recent polling boosts in New Hampshire, though he lags nationally - Christie leveled sharp attacks on his Republican rivals and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Blasting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for skipping a budget vote, Christie said at the morning rally in Exeter, N.H., "Sen. Rubio, listen, if you're going to say you're opposed to something, how about showing up for work and voting no?"
Christie, who has maintained that he can handle his duties as governor despite frequent campaigning out of state, said he did not mind Rubio's "missing some time" to run for president. But for a vote on a trillion-dollar budget bill, "Can you at least show up then?" he said, drawing applause at a town hall meeting in Bedford.
Christie has recently gained in New Hampshire polls, averaging 10.7 percent in recent polls, putting him in third place, just behind Rubio. Donald Trump is in the lead, with an average of 28.3 percent support.
In national polls, Christie remains in the low single digits. He is betting on a strong finish in New Hampshire to elevate his standing.
Aboard the bus emblazoned with his "Telling It Like It Is" slogan, Christie traveled with a larger-than-usual contingent Saturday. In addition to his wife, Mary Pat, the four Christie children were present, as was Christie's father, Bill.
Also along was Maine Gov. Paul LePage, whom Christie aided last year while the New Jersey governor was chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
And 120 volunteers from New Jersey made the trip to New Hampshire for the weekend, Christie announced, helping fill the garage for the morning rally at Al's Automotive, and later during a town-hall meeting in Bedford. At both events, a camera attached to a 15-foot jib swept over the large crowds, collecting footage for Christie's super PAC.
As Christie - and a slate of backers giving introductions - spoke at the garage event, one voice in the crowd rose above the rest. "Christie!" shouted Angel Cordero, a Camden activist and Christie super-fan, turning heads. When a former congressman rallied the crowd for Christie, Cordero yelled: "Total package!"
Not everyone at the rally had joined Team Christie. "I'm one of the people he hates," said Eric Trump, 68, of Brentwood, referring to an admonition Christie had given voters who placed him in their top three, rather than number one.
Trump, a retired nuclear power-plant engineer, liked Christie's "executive background" and homeland-security focus: "We certainly need someone who's going to protect the country better." But he says he has not settled on a candidate; pointing to his watch, he noted that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would appear nearby in 40 minutes.
During the Exeter stop, Christie also went after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, telling the crowd that Cruz "says he's going to carpet-bomb Syria to see if sand can actually glow. That's really tough talk." But "Sen. Cruz voted to weaken our country," Christie said, referring to Cruz's opposition to the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program.
After criticizing the senators - "Washington's a crazy place, isn't it?" - Christie also tarred former Secretary of State Clinton, labeling her "a poster girl for insider Washington failure and dysfunction."
Christie continued his focus on terrorism, belittling President Obama's initial comments that the recent San Bernardino attack could have been workplace violence. "You would think, after seven years as president of the United States, he would know better," said Christie, who quickly after the attack labeled it terrorism.
Describing a country "racked with anxiety and fear," Christie pitched his experience as the solution. He listed the ways he had been "tested" - by "the most liberal media market," by his time as U.S. attorney, by Hurricane Sandy.
"We're not picking a legislator-in-chief. We're not picking an entertainer-in-chief," he said. He employed an analogy he used recently in Iowa, describing himself as the old but reliable truck of the presidential race. (Asked later whether he had ever owned a truck, Christie said he had not. "I don't know when the last time was I drove a truck, but I feel like a truck," he said.)
As Christie circled a tavern in Derry, N.H., Saturday afternoon, LePage told reporters the New Hampshire campaign had shifted "big time" in Christie's favor. He dismissed Trump as having "great sizzle. But there's no beef."
"It's more theater than actual policy," LePage said.
While New Jerseyans were among those lining the stands of the Bedford High School gymnasium for Christie's town-hall meeting - where, among other topics, he declared that "every rotten dangerous terrorist" should stay at Guantanamo Bay - Christie found some fresh New Hampshire support.
"I'm going home and taking down my Carly sign," said Lisa Foote, 56, a nursing-school professor from Bedford.